“Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.” - Adrienne Clarkson
Between 1878 and 1933 Louis Comfort Tiffany would create hundreds of singular art nouveau pieces - the most famous of which were his canonical floral patterned windows and lamps. Pioneering an entirely new style of stained glass work, including a whole new category of glass called favrile, Tiffany would eventually create a name for himself that would rival that of his jeweler father. But not before facing a large amount of creative rejection from both his family and contemporary critics and collectors.
During that same time period a different French import, escargot snails, were brought to Gold Rush era California by an enterprising businessman named Antoine Delmas. The result of a culinary endeavor gone wrong, they would eventually become an endemic throughout the state. Despite spending untold numbers of dollars on their eradication, these culinary-stars-turned-common-pest are at best ignored and at most reviled by gardeners to this day.
The TifFAUXny snail series replicates 50+ canonical Tiffany patterns onto both escargot serving shells and living escargot snails. It seeks to bridge the star crossed redemption arc and dramatic spiral of these two contemporaneous figures and their creative outputs. It also seeks to add to ongoing conversations about status and value; including how much is transferrable, in both directions, between base materials and objets d’art.
These shells and snails form the basis for the TifFAUXny Snails: A Tale of Gold and Glass, a social practice performance/installation, a deeper exploration of the synergies between Tiffany and Delmas and the impacts that their shared era had on the ecology and geography of San Francisco.